I’ll be honest, the appeal of this one was the pretty purple-y dragon tail on the cover and the use of ‘dragon’ in the title. I was hoping for lots and lots of dragons. That’s not really what I got. This was a disappointment to me, though it wasn’t the worst YA fantasy I’ve ever read.
Thanks to HarperTeen for the ARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
About the book:
Magic needs a spark.
And Maggie’s powers are especially fickle. With no one to help her learn to control her magic, the life debt that she owes stretches eternally over her head, with no way to repay it.
Until she meets Griffin, the king’s champion infamous for hunting down the draignochs that plague their kingdom.
Neither has any idea of the destiny that they both carry, or that their meeting will set off a chain of events that will alter every aspect of the life they know—and all of history thereafter.
What did I think?
I was listening to this at work and it still didn’t manage to keep my attention – when a book is less interesting than manual data entry? That’s not a good sign. I didn’t hate this book, and nor did I love it. I guessed the plot twist around 40% into the book, because it was fairly predictable. The writing was fairly simple and felt like it was on the lower end of the YA age range, but then the content felt upper YA with repeated on-page references to sexual harassment, implied assault (from the power dynamics in the court) and prostitution. It meant that the tone felt super inconsistent.
The idea of a medieval world where magic is completely unknown was interesting, and I’m a huge fan of the magic origin story, but this one didn’t really land for me. The fantasy elements didn’t feel that significant, there was far more focus on political machinations, court life and this huge competition (that I just did not care about) than there was on the magic and dragon aspects, and it took over half the book for us to get any actual dragon content – and even then it wasn’t a huge part of the book. For a book with dragon in the name? I gotta admit I was disappointed. The political/court aspects of this were very accessibly written, and I could see a young teen reading this and getting hooked on political fantasy, but as a book on its own? I wasn’t impressed.
Our two main characters, Griffin and Maggie, committed the cardinal sin for a protagonist – they were boring. I didn’t hate them, I didn’t love them. They were meh. I wasn’t really rooting for them at any point, their character arcs didn’t interest me and while they did both have very distinct character voices, I still didn’t like them enough to care what happened to them. I kept listening to see how it ended, mostly because I saw reviews stating that the book’s ending had them hooked. I didn’t really see it. At 98% the book still felt like book 1 in a duology, and that guarantees the ending would feel very convenient. It was a bit too much of a deus ex machina for me, and felt like a very unsatisfying ending for a standalone.
Release Date: 19th October 2021